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K Street Files: Wall Street Watchdog?

A coalition of unions, community organizations and progressive groups today are launching Americans for Financial Reform, which will call on Congress to set up a system to police Wall Street.

[IMGCAP(1)]The group, whose budget is more than $5 million, is asking for a consumer watchdog to keep a close eye on the nation’s financial systems and is advocating for reforms to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

The groups involved include Campaign for America’s Future, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Service Employees International Union, US PIRG, the Opportunity Finance Network and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Most of the budget will go toward advertising, lobbying and grass-roots efforts, according to a coalition organizer.

“Finance is too important to be left to the bankers,— said Toby Chaudhuri, communications director for Campaign for America’s Future. “These fast-talking banksters saw an opportunity to get rich quick, and they brought the global economy to the brink of the abyss. We want those responsible to be held accountable, and we want to make certain it can’t happen again.—

Heather Booth, director of Americans for Financial Reform, added: “For too long the big banks have been making their own rules and gambling with your money. We’ve come together today to tell them those days are over. The excesses of Wall Street have spilled over into our communities, and now our communities are going repaying the favor by taking on the fight for real financial reform.—

Going Hungry. A group of lobbyists who were planning to attend a luncheon fundraiser for California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday will have to brown bag it instead.

The Senator has called off the Charlie Palmer Steak event after reading an invitation for it in Monday’s K Street Files.

Sent by lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser Heather Podesta, the solicitation invited donors to dine on Feinstein’s committee assignments.

It stated that a prix fixe would include “the Select Committee on Intelligence for the first course followed by your choice of Appropriations, Judiciary, or Rules committees.— Feinstein is on all those panels.

Feinstein spokesman Gil Duran said in an e-mail that his boss “did not see the invitation until it was published in Roll Call. The event has been cancelled. It was obvious that this would be subject to misinterpretation by some, and it was cancelled to avoid any misinterpretation.—

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